A campaign sans criminal elements

Intense discussion:Representatives of political parties at a meeting with police officials in Puducherry on Saturday.  

Political parties have agreed to a police request to keep out criminal elements from the campaigning for the May 16 assembly elections.

The police top brass, which held another round of consultations with representatives of political parties following discussions with independent candidates on Friday, explained to the leaders the “extra mile the police was willing to go” to ensure a free and fair election and sought in return a guarantee that the parties would not encourage persons with a criminal record to be involved in electioneering.

Concerns of violence

“We want to maintain a level-playing field. There was concurrence among political parties that entry of criminal elements in the campaigning scene would escalate concerns of violence and voter intimidation. We have also told them that we will be unsparing in dealing with trouble-makers,” Praveer Ranjan, IGP told The Hindu.

The political parties have given an assurance in this regard to the police, he said.

The meeting at the conference hall of the Police Headquarters was attended by all major recognised political parties including Congress, AINRC, BJP, BSP, DMK, AIADMK, CPI, CPI(M), IJK and PMK.

While appreciating the consultations convened by the police, the political parties also aired concerns regarding the permission for holding election meeting, the vulnerable areas and segments, restriction on number of people attending rallies and processions, deployment of police personnel including Central Para-Military Forces in outlying areas and complaints regarding government officials getting involved in the election campaigning.

Quick response

Political parties across the spectrum demanded quick response to any complaints of model code of conduct violations in the remaining phase of campaigning.

One of the important concerns raised was the abuse of social media and many political parties want to take up with the Election Commission the proliferation of defamatory posts being circulated in platforms such as Whatsapp and Facebook.

“Independent candidates raised valid concerns about the potential play of money and muscle power in the elections. The police have agreed to open a Whatsapp account to which anyone could send video or pictorial evidence of violations,” said K.R. Mathew, activist of the AAP in Puducherry who had attended the meeting on Friday.

According to police, the political leaders were assured of prompt action based on specific complaints. They were also updated on the helpline 1950 for lodging specific complaints and given an assurance that the identity of the complainants would be kept confidential. The police have also facilitated online lodging of complaints on Citizen Portal of Puducherry Police where users can access Police Station directly and get the acknowledgement of their complaints. The meeting was chaired by IGP and attended by Sonia Narang, Police Observer, N. Gnanasambandan, SSP(L&O), and Rajiv Ranjan, SSP (HQ).

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 12:02:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/A-campaign-sans-criminal-elements/article14308294.ece

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